Snap-Magat may expand solar-power project by 20 MW

By Lenie Lectura – June 28, 2019
from Business Mirror

RAMON, Isabela—SN Aboitiz Power-Magat (SNAP-Magat) may expand its 200-kilowatt pilot solar-power project here to 20 megawatts or possibly 50 MW in the near future.

“I’d like to have 20 MW of floating solar. That’s 100 times. This is 0.2 MW,” SNAP President Joseph Yu said.

When asked if the planned expansion could reach 50 MW, Yu said, “For me, I’d like to see that as next phase.”

SNAP-Magat invested nearly P24 million for the 200-kW facility, which is placed over a 2,500-square-meter area over the Magat reservoir. The circular installation is made up of 720 solar panels held in place by four mooring systems.

This is the first non-hydro renewable-energy (RE) project of SNAP, which is looking at other renewables and complementary technologies to expand its portfolio. At present, the project will provide power to SNAP’s facilities in the area.

“A 200-kW capacity supplies most of our internal household already, so this is like the control room, all the air-conditioning, lights that Magat needs to run. So, what would happen, instead of getting that from Magat, they will use it for household requirements,” Yu said. A 10-month stress test will be conducted on the pilot project to ensure that the facility can withstand massive inflows and strong typhoons.

“The plan is, over the next six months, we will go through the wet season, the rains and the storms and we’ll see how it reacts to the waves and the rain. We’d like to see strong winds to see what it can withstand,” he said. “The pilot is pretty expensive. We spent a little over $400,000.00.  I think, the estimate we’ve been using is $1 million per MW. We’d like to get that lower. For the 20MW scale, I’d like to see it below $1 million per MW.”

Other than not competing for land space, floating solar facilities have a number of other benefits according to studies. They safeguard the water levels in dams and reservoirs by reducing evaporation, which is critical during times of drought and El Niño.

When scaled, floating solar installations can provide shade that can inhibit the growth of harmful algae while providing sanctuary for marine life that cannot survive in very hot temperatures.

For this pilot project, SNAP partnered with Ocean Sun, a Norwegian floating solar technology provider. Ocean Sun’s method of installation of solar panels on floating membranes enables low cost and high performance, and has proven to withstand strong winds successfully while maintaining good seaworthiness.

SNAP-Magat is a joint venture between SN Power of Norway and AboitizPower. It owns and operates the 360- to 388-megawatt Magat hydro on the border of Isabela and Ifugao; and the 8.5-MW Maris hydro in Isabela. Only the power components of Magat were privatized; the dam and its re-regulating facilities downstream are owned and maintained by the National Irrigation Administration.